Vick takes center stage as starter against Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - September 25, 2010

No such luck. Vick, Philadelphia's dual-threat quarterback, will make his second straight start Sunday in Jacksonville. It will be the second time in as many home games that the Jaguars face an opposing quarterback garnering all the attention.

Hometown hero Tim Tebow made his NFL debut in Jacksonville two weeks ago and was a non-factor. The Jaguars (1-1) expect more from Vick, who has led the Eagles (1-1) to 62 points in six quarters.

"A lot of guys don't want to play him because he's a double threat," Smith said. "When you've got your back turned and he scrambles, by the time you turn around, he's 15 yards down field. That's always tough to handle. He's one of those freakish guys you've got to deal with."

Vick has completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for 459 yards and three touchdowns in 1½ games. He also has 140 yards rushing.

Eagles coach Andy Reid had insisted Kolb would start when he returned from a concussion. But Vick's play prompted Reid to reverse field Tuesday and stick with Vick, saying the shifty left-hander gives Philadelphia a better chance to win.

Smith's reaction?

"I got a text message and I was like, 'Aw, man,"' he said. Several teammates were less concerned with the switch. But they thanked Reid for making the announcement early in the week and giving them plenty of time to prepare for Vick.

"When the opposing team or opposing player is getting all the hype, if it doesn't motivate you as a player then you're in for the wrong reasons," cornerback Rashean Mathis said. "We know all eyes are going to be on Vick, and with all eyes on him, then all eyes are going to be on us because we're defending him."

The Jaguars could have their hands full, though. They allowed 363 yards in the opener and 477 yards last week at San Diego, way more than coach Jack Del Rio and general manager Gene Smith want to see from the unit they spent the offseason retooling.

The defense missed tackles, got beat deep and was gouged for 151 yards rushing. Even more frustrating for Del Rio, his guys simply lost All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates several times in the middle of the field.

Jacksonville can't afford to do the same thing with Vick, running back LeSean McCoy or receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.

"They have weapons," linebacker Kirk Morrison said. "It's not just The Michael Vick Show. It's not about what he can do. It's about what he can do with the guys around him, the guys that make him even better."

Vick has seemingly become a better man and a better quarterback, showing maturity off and on the field after spending 18 months in federal prison for his role in a dogfighting operation.

"I know I'm still on the radar," Vick said. "I know I still have a bull's eye on my back. I just got to do the right things. I have created that situation for myself. If I want to stay in this league and I want to continue to play football, I have to do the right things off the field as well."

What he's done on the field earned him the starting job. Kolb and the rest of the offense were downright awful in the opener against Green Bay. Vick came in after Kolb got hurt, threw for 175 yards and a touchdown, ran for 103 yards and nearly rallied the Eagles from a 17-point deficit.

Vick was even better in last week's 35-32 win at Detroit. He threw for 284 yards and two TDs, ran for 37 yards and repeatedly escaped a relentless blitz.

"The past two games, he's played even beyond what I thought he could play," Reid said.

Del Rio considered trying something different to help his players prepare for Vick. Linebackers coach Mark Duffner, stealing a scene from the 1979 box office hit "Rocky II," once used a chicken in practice to simulate the speed of quarterback Doug Flutie in 1984.

Duffner, then the coach at Holy Cross, released the chicken only to watch it fly away. Boston College won 45-10, and Flutie picked up the Heisman Trophy a week later.

"We're going to do that, but as 'Duff' continued to tell the story, once he dropped the chicken it took off and it was never to be seen again," Del Rio said. "So he was out the ten bucks for the chicken and his team was wondering, 'What the heck?'

"So we're not going to bring a chicken in to prepare ourselves to chase Michael, but we understand that it will be imperative that we attack him aggressively and that we tackle him with our opportunities. And as you do any skill player, when you get a chance to put a lick on him, you want to make sure he feels it."

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